“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Arcadia in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Elias J. Baldwin

Elias J. Baldwin Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, June 18, 2019
1. Elias J. Baldwin Marker
Inscription.  Elias Jackson Baldwin, founder and first Mayor of the City of Arcadia, was born into an Ohio farming family on April 3, 1828, but spent his formative years growing up in nearby Indiana where a year at Wabash College in Crawfordsville completed his formal education. At age 25, already a successful businessman, E.J., wife Sara Ann Unruh and daughter Clara set off on a wagon train journey west to the new state of California. Baldwin initially engaged in hotel, livery stable and brick businesses in San Francisco, but soon began a carefully orchestrated system of buying and selling mining shares in Nevada’s Comstock Lode. A particularly fortuitous stock sale earned him the much-disliked nickname “Lucky,” but it was hard work and enterprise that netted Baldwin the $5 million profit he brought into Southern California in 1875. “I came down to look at a mine,” Baldwin would later reminisce, “but when I saw this ranch there was nothing that would make me happy but to own it.”

The Ranch was Santa Anita, one of several old ranchos that entrepreneur Baldwin would acquire in Los Angeles County, but it became
Front of Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, June 18, 2019
2. Front of Marker
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his beloved home place, and four of his original historic structures have been carefully restored at today’s Los Angeles County Arboretum. Baldwin’s second daughter (born to third wife Jennie Dexter in 1876) was named Anita in recognition of the land purchase; a City thoroughfare, a train station and a racetrack would later sport the name as well. Santa Anita was both a heralded beauty spot and a productive working ranch with hundreds of acres in citrus alone, a vineyard and winery that produced prize-winning wines and brandies, and livestock that ranged from sheep and cattle to expensive, successful thoroughbred race horses who made turf history at every track in the nation.

Ever the businessman, Baldwin signed right-of-way contracts with local railroad companies in the 1880s and made provision for two local depots to be built, one on Ranch land and the other in the heart of his newly laid out Arcadia town site. Land sales were headquartered at Baldwin’s Oakwood Hotel on First Avenue, and soon a flamboyant scheme to petition for cityhood grabbed headlines. Despite protests from neighboring cities, Arcadia was incorporated in 1903, and with Lucky Baldwin becoming Mayor Baldwin, not only was gambling legalized, but in 1907 a dream came true with construction of Santa Anita Park, a racetrack in his own back yard (today the site of Santa Anita Golf Course). Two years
Marker and Statue image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, June 18, 2019
3. Marker and Statue
later, Baldwin died at his Santa Anita ranch home, but his mark will never be forgotten. “He was Lucky Baldwin, perhaps the outstanding individualist of his generation,” concluded an early biographer. “His was the spirit of the frontier.”

Photos on left:
Elias Jackson Baldwin at his Baldwin Lake boathouse, ca. 1895.
Baldwin Ranch orange crate label, ca. 1890.
Oakwood Hotel (located at southwest corner of Santa Clara and First Ave., across the railroad tracks from Arcadia Depot), ca. 1895.

Photos on right:
Baldwin Ranch winery exhibit, ca. 1890.
Maltese Cross (Baldwin’s racing insignia) commemorating his record four American Derby winners.

Photographs courtesy of Arcadia Historical Society and Sandy Snider.
Erected 2013 by Arcadia Historical Society. (Marker Number 10.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureIndustry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasSettlements & Settlers.
Location. 34° 7.881′ N, 118° 2.738′ W. Marker is in Arcadia, California, in Los Angeles County. Marker is at the intersection of Campus Drive and Holly Avenue, in the median on Campus Drive
“Lucky” Baldwin Statue image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Baker, June 18, 2019
4. “Lucky” Baldwin Statue
Donated by Lucky Baldwin’s great, great, great granddaughters: Margaux Gibson-Viera and Heather Gibson.
. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 370 Campus Dr, Arcadia CA 91007, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Chamber of Commerce Building (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Santa Anita Park (approx. half a mile away); Seabiscuit (approx. half a mile away); Santa Anita During World War II (approx. half a mile away); Santa Anita Depot (approx. ¾ mile away); American Indian Artifact (approx. ¾ mile away); Reid-Baldwin Adobe (approx. 0.8 miles away); Baldwin Lake (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arcadia.
Also see . . .  Arcadia Historical Society. (Submitted on June 19, 2019.)
Additional keywords. Lucky Baldwin
Credits. This page was last revised on June 20, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 19, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. This page has been viewed 211 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 19, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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May. 22, 2022